A/N: I had a hard time getting this out, and usually when I write crack the story writes itself. I guess it's because I've dilly-dallied on this so long - and doing my own things outside the writing/typing gig - I just got tired of it. But it's here, regardless of quality, so have a slice of crack pie :P
What Happens When You Go Over 9000
"Holy crap…did I do that?"
"Yes, you did," says Sumire. They're sitting on the couch watching the TV. The camera zooms in and follows the paramedics pushing the stretcher holding Toki's dead weight out the door into the back of the ambulance.
You suddenly find your hands to be of monumental interest, and so you pull your eyes away from the television set and stare at said hands. At those calloused fingers, the palms of those hands. The eye of the hurricane. Da Voodoo. "I didn't mean to. Just wanted to win, is all. Not, you know"—you fidget, at a loss for words—"kill her."
"Tell that to Senriyama," says Sumire, and she indicates a nod at the door. The floor shakes with the drumbeat of footsteps. "Don't forget to recite your last rites."
The door flies open. It's not Senriyama, thank goodness, but the rest of the team. Awai and Seiko and Takami. Awai rockets through the space between the other girls, right into your not so modest bosom. "Terry~!" she exclaims jubilantly, and you cringe at the outrageous nickname she's plastered on you. "I knew you were number one! You totally dominated out there!"
You rest your killer's hands on the small of her back. "Um, thanks? I guess?"
"You guess?" Seiko repeats. "You were amazing! You kept us in the lead all the way through!"
"Yeah, but"—and you squirm, again at a loss for words but because dammit Awai what have I told you about pressing your face into my tits—"well, I'm not particularly proud of this victory. You see, I killed Onjouji Toki."
"And so it begins," Sumire intones gravely. "Any last words before I fetch the Bible and herald your spirit to the lowest circle of hell, Miyanaga Teru?"
"Yeah," you say. "You remember that bow your grandfather got you for your birthday a couple years back when you won first place in the FITA Archery World Cup?"
Her face darkens with suspicion. "Yes. I still don't know what happened to it."
"Okay. Now…you remember that argument we had the following week, before the monsoon came? How I would channel Da Voodoo in the eye of the storm so it would increase the power of the hands I'd make during the inter-high competition."
Now her eyes narrow. "What about it?"
"The fetish I had in my hand during the ritual? That was your bow. I wrecked that shit."
If dinosaurs had a second chance to roam the earth, they would be made extinct again by the sheer, naked rage ready to blow the skin off her face. "You bitch," she hisses.
And just as she's about to lunge forward and throttle the life from your virgin, voodoo-blessed body, the door flies open again, and the force of the impact against the wall knocks it off its hinges.
"MIYANAGA TERU!" Ryuuka roars, knife in hand, and you think to yourself this can't get any worse. "Pray to your gods and repent with your blood, it's time to die!"
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'ngal fhtagn!" Sera screams, slapping the folded chain against the palm of her hand.
Izumi shoots confused glances at her two teammates, and then turns an equally confused glare at you. Her knuckles whiten around the rusty crowbar. "Wh-What she said!"
"What the hell?!" Seiko exclaims, and takes a step back. "How did you…? Where did you get those weapons?!"
"Why are you all so angry?" Takami squeaks, hiding behind Seiko's tall body. "It's just a game!"
"Tell that to your demon!" Ryuuka stabs the knife in your direction. "She killed my Toki!"
"THEY TOOK OUR JOBS!" Sera cries, rattling the chain with merciless abandon.
"While there's nothing we can do about the unemployment rate," begins Izumi, "there is something we can do about you, Miyanaga Teru. Only your death may sate the wrath of Senriyama!"
"Back up, girlfriend," Sumire growls threateningly. "Teru is mine. You're going to have to wait." Her hand claps onto the back of your head, snatches a fistful of hair, and freaking pulls.
"THE HAIR, WATCH THE HAIR—"
"SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!" says Awai, removing her face from the warm comfort of your tits (THANK GOD). "No one is killing anybody! Nuh-uh, no way, not without my say so! And I say no! I won't let you heathens murder my wife! Terry is my world! You can't have her!"
Now it's Seiko's turn to jab her finger at Senriyama. "You guys lost fair and square. Your teammate put up a brave fight, but even if she wasn't sick she still wouldn't have been able to surpass Teru. Seeing into the future isn't exactly what I call advantageous."
"Says the many-worlds interpretation!"
"Can't we talk this out?" Takami asks, casting worrying glances at Seiko and Ryuuka as they get up in each other's faces and press their foreheads together in an epic struggle for dominance. "It doesn't have to come to this—"
"YES IT DOES," Ryuuka snarls through clenched teeth.
"NO IT DOESN'T!" exclaims Awai. "I won't let you!"
"BLOOD AND THUNDER!" Sera declares, shaking the chain above her head.
"Would you just SHUT UP?" Izumi snaps at her.
"Get in line, I was here first!" says Sumire, and again she yanks your hair, roots wailing in agony.
You bite back the groan building up inside, rising in your throat like vomit. Why won't they leave you alone? You can't help you had a devil for a mother (and devils are in a whole league of their own, see; where a demon might cause electrical power to falter or cause a minor earthquake, a devil can summon the wrath of gods or, in moments of extreme competitive tension, tear through the fabric of reality), and you certainly can't help that this is Inter-High and the whole point of it is to fight for the top spot, the first place, the Everlasting Number One.
Even if it means putting your life on the line.
I didn't want to kill her, you tell yourself. I just wanted to win, that's all. Is that so bad?
Your eyes settle on the open doorway and, while everyone else is raring to shower the room in blood and guts, someone steps from the unseen corridor to fill that empty space.
You gasp. Your stomach drops. Your heart is about to punch through your chest.
You know those glasses and that cat-like frown.
There's a devil standing in the doorway. Right behind Senriyama.
This is how it ends.
OH FUCK ME! you cry in your loudest Indoor Voice, FUCK ME!
"What the hell are you brats doing?" Atago Masae demands, and Senriyama freezes at the steel in her voice. "You don't go through my arsenal unless there's an emergency!"
They whirl around, not even trying to hide the weapons behind their backs. "Uwaah! Atago-sensei!" "It's not what it looks like, Sensei!" "I just did it because I have low self-esteem and wanted to feel like a boss!"
"You're only trying to be something you're not!" Masae snaps at Izumi; the first-year very much withers under her coach's flinted gaze and chokes on a sob. Now the elder turns her nose down on the other girls. "Now answer the question!"
Sera cries, "THEY TOOK OUR—!"
"Shut your ass up!"
"Atago-sensei!" Ryuuka pipes up. "That…that" and she points an accusing finger at you "hellspawn killed Toki! Didn't you watch the match? She raped Toki and left her body on the ground like a prom night dumpster baby!" She begins to say more when a grey-white blur flashes out of nowhere and smacks her head topside. "Ow!"
Masae brandishes the roll of newspaper in her hands. "What drug did you drop? I just checked in on her and the doctors say she's fine. Breathing. That means she's alive."
Izumi sniffles. "But Teru—" Thwap! "OW!"
"Idiots! Miyanaga did what any other player would do in her position: fight for everlasting love and glory!" Well, you don't know about the love part since you totaled Sumire's bow and you're almost positive she's no longer That Into You, something Awai will definitely be happy to hear. "She put her heart and soul onto that table, and what did she get in return?" She turns to you, as if she's expecting an answer.
Which you do: "Securing our team's spot in first place." Damn straight!
"Damn straight!" Masae says. "Mahjong isn't just about who makes the biggest hand or who has the scariest, most mind-breaking supernatural ability. It's about knocking heads together and kicking as much ass as you possibly can before that gods-be-damned buzzer sounds and you find yourself deaf from the sheer volume of it. It doesn't matter how you do it; the name of the game is to win, and that's something you, my petulantly whining maggots, should be trying harder to achieve.
"Do I make myself clear?" She sweeps a hand at you and the rest of your team. "These girls are your opponents, your rivals, the one major obstacle to overcome. This is the school that's won the Nationals two years straight." Her spectacles flash in the filtering sunlight. "Are you going to let them succeed a third time?"
The Senriyama girls shake their heads. "Hell no, ma'am!"
"Are you going to waver because one girl" that'd be you, Terry "one insignificant demon forced Toki to make a gamble with death?"
"Hell no, ma'am!"
"You had better not," she growls. "If we don't give them our all, imagine how that would reflect on Senriyama from the entire nation. If we fail to send even one of these whelps to their knees, then what kind of a coach would that make me?"
You don't have to say it. No one does, and for a brief moment the temperature in the room plummets. Hell is either hot or cold, depending on the person, but right now it feels absolutely Antarctic. Devils are wont to exude the power of their aura much more than their lesser counterparts. Their presence can trigger an astounding number of effects on their surroundings and the people within them, ranging from the common bone-deep soul-sinking fear to the rare bout of sudden desperate rage.
Instead, the changes are subtle. Your skin splits and blood seeps into the cracks like the veins on ore. Fingernails descend into rot and peel back. The bleached white bones of your ribcage erupt through your uniform and froths with stomach acid. From it the image of a long-haired feline forms and it bears its fangs in a menacing snarl. It opens its jaws, wider and wider—
And just as it's about to take your head off, the vision vanishes.
But Atago Masae's eyes are still on you. Sharp, predatory, and oddly relaxed. A tigress watching the growing cub climbs her way up the National Ladder, waiting for the moment when she'll be knocked loose and sent falling to her demise.
You scoff. Why should you be afraid in the first place, because that woman's a devil and you're not? Let's see how she feels when you and Shiraitodai send the rest of Senriyama under zero. Even a force of nature can be toppled; Masae was no exception.
She sees the face you make and opens her mouth to retort, but she never gives voice to those words.
A girl with half-moon spectacles pokes her head in the doorway. You recognize her as Funakubo Hiroko, Senriyama's data collector with a near-manic obsession for 'science' and 'research'. "Hey Coach, I reset the combo on your 'mergency cache just like you asked," she says, then appraises her team with an analytical once-over. "Well what do you know, it's the Brady Bunch. Or is this the group trying out for the latest Grand Theft Auto game? I can't tell."
"Shut up, Funakyu!" Ryuuka fumes. "Toki's your friend, too! Why aren't you pissed off your rocker?"
Funakyu turns her gaze up to the ceiling, tapping a thoughtful finger on her chin. "Gee I don't know, maybe it's because it's still early in the game. This is only the beginning, my big-bosomed comrade. There's more than just one demon lurking in our midst. Yes indeed, we should all be very grateful it wasn't one of these other rapscallions. It could have been worse." And she looks pointedly at Awai, who snaps her teeth in her direction. "Much worse."
"And it will be worse," says Seiko, and she cracks her knuckles, "if you don't leave."
Takami puts a firm hand around her friend's arm. "Uwa, save it for when you're at the table! M-Make love, not war!"
"Then I will make love them to them very, very hard."
"No," you say. "She's right. Better to beat them senseless with tiles than with our fists. After all, that's where the fight's at. Wouldn't you agree, Shimizudani Ryuuka?"
"FAR FROM IT!" she declares, and rattles the knife at your sandwiched body. A second thwack across the head from Masae's deadly newspaper roll douses that womanly inferno to a childish simmer. Ryuuka's petulant pout almost makes you feel sorry for her. Almost.
Masae crosses her arms and gives Senriyama a curt nod. "Right, back to the lounge with you. Hiroko, make sure these busters replace my tools. The rest of you," she pauses for dramatic effect, soaking in the simmer of their unspoken reluctance "I'll deal with later. Let's go."
They walk out of the room in a single file, Sera complaining about the Missed Crowning Moment of Awesome she would've had barring the interruption, Izumi still wallowing in her despair (because being a mahjong player is suffering). Ryuuka stops at the threshold, turns around, props an elbow on her hand and flips you the one-finger salute. Then she departs. Masae scoffs at her player's actions but doesn't rebuke her. She starts to move.
"Atago-sensei," you say. The woman stops and looks at you. "I am glad Toki is alright. I wish for her a speedy recovery."
Masae doesn't reply to that, content to stare you in the eye with that moue of feline boredom. You wonder what could be going through her mind.
Finally, she says: "Toki is a strong girl. She'll pull through…but I'll pass your message on to her." She turns around and adds, "This doesn't change anything. Remember that." The devil slinks into the shadows and out of sight. The temperature returns to normal.
You breathe a sigh of relief. "Well! It is good to know I am not a murderer."
"But they almost killed you," says Seiko as she crosses the room to close the door. "It's a wonder they even got past security. Who in their right minds would bring weapons to a mahjong tournament?"
"They're very protective, aren't they?" Takami says.
You roll your eyes. "No kidding." And then your head is yanked back—"OW"—staring upside-down into Sumire's pissed off face. "What?"
"We're not finished yet."
"Oh come on," you groan. "So I used your bow as a fetish. You can always buy a new one—OW!"
Now her glare is murderous. "A new one? A new one?! Do you know how much MONEY my GRANDFATHER spent on THAT?!"
Awai puts a hand to her older teammate's forehead and pushes her away. "Stop hurting my WIFE!"
"I'm not your wife!"
"YES YOU ARE." She grits through her teeth, and then she hauls you up by the collar. Your forehead bumps with hers and her nose pokes against yours. Hot damn, when will the madness end? All these abrupt movements are going to make you sick if it doesn't stop soon.
So since your hands are tied trying to pry Angry and Horny off, you're left to call for the remaining two girls who haven't decided to jump your bones…in the non-erotic sense of the phrase. "Seiko! Takami! Your champion demands your assistance!"
They take a step forward, but it never meets the floor.
The challenge exuding from the blue-eyed demon and the long-haired princess must be like a portal opening to the deepest reaches of hell, because in that instant your so-called 'saviors' lose all resolve and flee for the door.
"Where are you going?" you cry. "Get back here!"
Seiko pulls up her sleeve and looks at her wristwatch…except she's not wearing one. "Oh, would you look at the time? I have to drop some kids off at the pool!"
"You just went to the john ten minutes ago!"
"GOTTA GO RIGHT NOW."
"I-I'm going to help her—I mean, join her!" Takami exclaims, and she too joins her friend in their escape.
You reach futilely for them, but it's no use. Regardless of how fast they hauled their sorry asses and whether or not they're within earshot, you rage, "Traitors! Rapscallions! I'll have your heads for this—ow, ow, OW!"